written by:
January 30, 2009
Joining the Grecian urn, the much-rhapsodized IKEA cabinet finally gets its poetic due as a heroic ode. Anyone who owns a set may verily be inclined to put quill to paper and dash off a few stanzas of their own.

Writer Dan Maginn’s Ode to the Ikea Cabinet says it best:

“O CABINETS, thou art affordable and shall fit like 
Careless laughter on our walls! Yet ye remain incomplete. 
’Tis time to cloak you properly. What color are thy doors 
And drawers? Be ye wood’n made, or be ye glossed in shiny Resin? Do steely knobs populate thine countenance? Companion! Like siblings at play with Mr. Potato Head, let 
Us now select a proper face for our Kitchen-Tuber. Duvbo? We smileth not at thee. Ärlig? No—thou art too white. Lo! Who’s this? Companion! What think thee of Linjär? Aye! 
Blue of face, sleek of handle, (shines she not brighter
’Pon our approach?) LINJÄR! Thou art ours!”

kitchens 101 an ode ikea

Writer Dan Maginn’s Ode to the Ikea Cabinet says it best:

“O CABINETS, thou art affordable and shall fit like 
Careless laughter on our walls! Yet ye remain incomplete. 
’Tis time to cloak you properly. What color are thy doors 
And drawers? Be ye wood’n made, or be ye glossed in shiny Resin? Do steely knobs populate thine countenance? Companion! Like siblings at play with Mr. Potato Head, let 
Us now select a proper face for our Kitchen-Tuber. Duvbo? We smileth not at thee. Ärlig? No—thou art too white. Lo! Who’s this? Companion! What think thee of Linjär? Aye! 
Blue of face, sleek of handle, (shines she not brighter
’Pon our approach?) LINJÄR! Thou art ours!”

O IKEA1, thou art filled with brimming distractions! 
Already we have consum’d so much in thy nest. 
Our bags are nigh full of Secondary Things2 
We came not for. Let us locate our Primary Desire: 
’Tis Kitchen Cabinets we seek. Companion! 
Release the gnome-shaped candle from thine grip.
(’Tis odd-looking, that.) Drop also the penguin-shaped 
Dog toy and focus thine attention! See ye not 
What I see? Past the digital clocks, there. Behold 
My lingonberry-stained finger: It points to Cabinets.

O COMPANION! Let us enter the show-kitchen together 
And pretend that it is ours.3 (Though ’tis a fiction, ’twill 
Help us imagine our own sweet reality.) Look! Here I am Roasting an imaginary beef! See? Let’s take it out of the 
Oven, and let it cool down. Companion! Put thyself to 
Good use and prep these invisible organic carrots next 
To me. Have ye enough room to peel them? Where art 
Thy carrot pan? Is she in a cabinet there? Yes, ’tis there! 
This layout, subtly modified has many merits. ’Twill 
Function quite well with our real beefs and carrots.

O CABINETS, thou art affordable4 and shall fit like 
Careless laughter on our walls! Yet ye remain incomplete. 
’Tis time to cloak you properly. What color are thy doors 
And drawers? Be ye wood’n made, or be ye glossed in shiny Resin? Do steely knobs populate thine countenance? 5 Companion! Like siblings at play with Mr. Potato Head, let 
Us now select a proper face for our Kitchen-Tuber. Duvbo? We smileth not at thee. Ärlig? No—thou art too white. Lo! Who’s this? Companion! What think thee of Linjär? Aye! 
Blue of face, sleek of handle, (shines she not brighter 6 
’Pon our approach?) LINJÄR!7 Thou art ours!

(1) In an attempt to poetically explore the cultish phenomenon of IKEA kitchens, my girlfriend and I recently traveled from Kansas City to the IKEA in Minneapolis. Our Primary Goal was to research their Äkurum modular cabinet system—the Secret Weapon of design-savvy urban dwellers across the globe.



(2) Inside the store, as we made our way up to locate our Primary Desire, we grabbed a cart and began hoarding Secondary Things. It is easy to get distracted at IKEA: How can you pass up these wee stainless steel bowls, for instance? Six for two dollars? Or these fun corks? They don’t have corks like these, these exact corks, 
in Kansas City.



(3) What? You’re too good to play house? Listen, friend, you’re not buying a lamp here, so take it up a notch and get gritty. If you’re serious about an IKEA kitchen, you need to drop your catalog and go test your culinary/social theories in physical space/time. Chop some fake onions and sip some good fake Shiraz in a real kitchen as you fake talk to your fake friends. Ask yourself: Is this fun? Am I making a good risotto here, or am I just stirring rice?



(4) For comparison, IKEA 
bases the prices of their kitchen models on a ten-by-ten-foot, L-shaped design. For a well-built, modular kitchen without appliances, you’ll spend somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000. Although these prices are hilariously low, they don’t factor in the hours required to properly assemble and install your kitchen. Find a kitchen-savvy Ikean and ask them to ask you if you need help in all this. Think about what they’re asking. If you say “yes” to their question, then ask for their help. They’re very helpful.



(5) Once you have decided on the best functional arrangement for your kitchen, the next step is to finalize the package. Obviously, the same layout can look completely different based on your material and hardware choices. Talk to an Ikean about the pros and cons of different styles. Some models look kind of desperate in the store but would look great in the right house. Others look glossy and sweet in the showroom but would require constant cleaning. (Nothing de-cools an otherwise cool kitchen like greasy fingerprints on all the doors and drawers. Do you want to communicate, “We eat a lot of chicken nuggets,” when your boss comes over for dinner?)



(6) While you’re at it, ask about lighting. Yogi Berra once said: “A great kitchen without great lighting is a sucky kitchen.”



(7) Duvbo and Ärlig are two of the roughly 20 models offered at IKEA. Our favorite model is Linjär, designed by the Swede Mikael Warnhammar. It utilizes the same Äkurum modular cabinets as all IKEA kitchens, but it is

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016